Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Connect. Collaborate. Risk. Innovate.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Facilitating Oral Language- Decreasing Student Anxiety with Book Creator

          Statistics claim that people have a greater fear of public speaking than of death. Combine this inherent fear with an increasing dependence on digital communication, and I see many of my students struggling to meet even basic oral language learning outcomes. Recently, as part of a combined public speaking/myths, legends and fairy tales English 8 unit, I encouraged my students to begin by finding a story that sparked their interest, whether it was a traditional Grimm Brothers fairy tale, or a legend or myth specific to a particular culture. I then challenged them to create an adapted version of their chosen text using the App Book Creator. Working individually, or collaborating with a partner, they first had to determine the significant events of the original story. Then making use of this condensed summary, they began to create their adapted version. Book Creator allows users to create text, import pictures and most importantly for the purpose of developing oral language skills, record voice. I narrowed their focus and asked my students to concentrate on vocal expression, pacing and volume as they took turns recording their voices to accompany the text they wrote. With iPads in hand, they set off to quiet corners of the school to record their text and craft their adapted stories. As always, I cautioned them to keep a close eye on their iPads, and the clock to ensure that they were back in the classroom before the bell. Occasionally I would make the rounds of the school grounds to touch base with various students to ensure that all was going smoothly and to answer any questions they might have. And honestly, they had a blast writing their text, choosing pictures, picking font styles and colours, and trying out various character voices. They also enjoyed the freedom of being able to work anywhere on the school grounds rather than being confined to my classroom.
          The process of creating their books took two full classes, and once they were complete, it was time to share. Students are able to save their books into iBooks or DropBox, but we used Apple TV, so that they were able to project their books using the LCD projector, onto the classroom screen and play their recorded voices from their iPads. The magic of Apple TV is that students were able to "present" from their desks, eliminating the anxiety filled experience of standing in front of their classmates (don't get me wrong, we will move towards that by the end of the unit). As well, it seemed that my students felt much less self conscious about their expressive and dramatic readings as they were collaberating with a friend, or working individually, while they were recording their voices. Even students who were generally reserved and somewhat self-conscious in class, were able to read with amazing feeling and expression.
          An outcome that was expecially rewarding was that one of my students, who is on the autism spectrum and a relatively new reader, was able to work alongside his SEA to record himself reading and then "present" his book with greater ease and confidence. He read with fluency and expression. As someone who I know dreads standing in front of the class, he suddenly found himself on an even playing field, able to share his work in a safe and comfortalble setting. Technology is his "thing" and Book Creator enabled and empowered him to share his work using a medium that he excelled in.
Students presenting adapted version of Cinderella using Book Creator and Apple TV.

Students presenting adapted version of Little Red Riding Hood using Book Creator and Apple TV.

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